Friday, 17th of October, 2008, was a defining day in my life. I came home, after a total of 17 weeks and one day in hospital, or 120 days.

My Mom and Dad, eager in anticipation of taking me home, arrived mid-morning, after they still collected some final items from the pharmacy and baby store that I would need at home. There was a buzz in the air at the NNICU. Nurses and other Mommies, all smiling and laughing, came in and out my room, chatting to me, my Mom and my Dad. Generally everyone spoke at once, and even though it was a joyous time, the laughing was also punctuated with tears, from everyone at some point!

The day before, my going home outfit was planned, and replanned, and replanned, until finally my Mom and Dad settled on the perfect look for me to be discharged. Finally, on arrival at the hospital, Dad started off doing my cares, a final brief feed, and then dressed me. Mom gathered our belongings from around the ward. As this was home to the three of us for the past four months, we’d endeavoured to make it our home. Mom and Dad, and more recently the talent has been taught to me, have the ability to really ‘spread themselves out’ as it were. I’ve heard that they’re the type of travellers, that once settled in four, not two, armchairs at the executive lounge at the airport, proceed to ‘set themselves up’, by setting up the laptop, 3G card, one, sometimes two iPods, their own stock of reading material ranging from Time and Fortune to Condé Nast and New Scientist, and my Dad with some book on free energy, a conspiracy theory or two, and, I kid you not, a book on mathematical history or chaos theory, which ever takes Dad’s fancy that day! Mom packs one or two tomes of an autobiographical or biographical nature, journaling the life of the Romanovs, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas (present day Windsors), or some other European royal family. As if that isn’t enough, out come the puzzle books, logic problem books, cross word puzzles, Travel Scrabble and a newspaper or two. During all this time Dad acquaints himself with the whisky bar, and Mom secures a cocktail. What stuns everyone is that they are able to rapidly re-group and be on their flight without missing the boarding time. I guess it took them years of practice to perfect this art. Until now! I’d like to see all this played out once they travel with me for the first time. I predict chaos. Back to the present . . . Mom gathered my goodies from far and wide across the ward!

As we knew the evening before that I was going to be discharged the next day, I dispatched many of my belongings home with Mom and Dad already, so there wasn’t too much stuff to take home on the Friday – or so we thought. Before blinking another pile of items had gathered on the counter top, including things like all my x-rays, my mobile, iPod and docking station, and heaps of Infatrini. And that wasn’t all – we were still awaiting my take-home meds. It was these take-home meds that created the greatest delay. While waiting my Dad did a first for me (one of many for the day), and that was to officially and administratively discharge me from hospital. He was quite emotional about this, as it was a major milestone for me, considering that exactly three weeks ago I was still needing to put in a huge fight for survival. Upon returning to the ward Dad did another first – put me in my very own car seat, and buckled me in. And still we waited. During this time Mike (Isabella’s father) took our first family portrait, posted below. Next Lebo walked in with a packet of my take-home meds, and I figured it was time to go. Yippee! Not quite, next my Mom and Dad were given detailed instructions on how to prep my meds, administer them, and their associated timing. Additionally instructions were issued on how to look after my gastronomy tube, and an enormous bag of syringes of various sizes were handed over.

Finally, it was time to go, or so I thought, again. It was now time for Mom and Dad to bid farewell to my caregivers, who had become my mommies over the past few months. Hugs, laughing, cheers and tears were shared amongst all, and we were out the ward. A final stop at the Labour Ward ensued, and more hugs, tears and cheers went all round – I was so glad to see everyone at Labour Ward, as it was these folk that were present at my birth.

Off we went outside.

Mom and Dad took a gentle stroll to the car, carrying me in my car seat. Along the way Mom and Dad pointed out trees and birds and grass to me. It was a hot 32°C (90°F) outside the hospital – I’d never experienced this amount of heat before, as the NNICU is always at a controlled temperature. Around me I heard sounds I’d never heard before – a dog barking across the way, birds in the tress, a sprinkler in the hospital gardens, and a whole bunch of sounds I could not identify. Before long we arrived at Dad’s car – pimped for a baby ride, complete with a shade net over the windows, toys on suction pads adorning all possible smooth surfaces, and mirrors attached to the windscreen and backseat so that I can be watched while in transit. It did take Dad a little longer than I would have expected to get me and the car seat secured into the car, but I guess I should give him a break, as his practice runs were with an inanimate doll, so it didn’t matter too much how much it was bashed about and fell on the floor! Eventually, I was secured, and off we went.

In all honesty I don’t remember the drive home, as I soon drifted off to sleep. I do know that it was surreal. I had similar experiences in the back of an ambulance – the moment the engine was fired into life and we rolled off, my eyelids would get heavy. The late lunchtime traffic out of Sandton wasn’t too heavy as we seemed to get home in a flash. I could hardly breath I was so excited. After Dad parked the car I was taken out and introduced to Roxy, the staffie. Jake, the old staffie, has gotten deaf in his geriatric years, so he didn’t hear our arrival home so I missed being introduced to him. Once inside I meet Shatzi, Sonic and Maple, the three furballs of the house. They didn’t seem to welcoming initially, but I have heard that cats take some time to ‘warm up to one’. I also meet Maria, who look after Mom and Dad’s household.

Without delaym Dad, with me still in my car seat, took me for a tour of the house. It was so awesome to see where Mom and Dad retired to every evening for the past four months after visiting me at hospital. Well, that’s a thing of the past, for the time being. After seeing the bedrooms, lounge, dinning room, study and bathrooms I was taken to the most impressive room in the house – my bedroom. It was stunning, and everything I’d dreamed it would be. My cot looked so pretty, with crisp white sheets neatly tucked in, an entire shelf full of fluffy toys, a beautiful mahogany compact, and a wardrobe full of clothes for me. From the ceiling hung a pretty bear adorned mosquito net, and scattered around the room, various mobiles and toys dangled from the ceiling. It was just like the photos in my blog about The Nursery, that my Dad posted on my behalf before I was born.

Before long I had my first feed at home. It was really wonderful, settling down to a feed without having nurses towering over me (for all the right reasons – don’t get me wrong), and the continuous incessant bleeping of some or other monitoring machine, be it mine or one of my inmates’. One of the first things my folks wanted to do was have a snooze, with me! This was an exciting feeling, as I’d never had the chance to have an uninterrupted, unobserved snooze with my Mommy and Daddy. So after I was fed, all three of us headed off to the main bedroom, and there, lo and behold, was another cot for me – this time a super-duper brand new camp cot, that my Mommy and Daddy had set up for me, awaited my tired body. They were a little nervous of my condition, and opted to have me close on hand when I slept, should I regress during the night, not that I’m planning to, of course. I was put into this cot, also made with beautiful crisp white sheets, and a mobile overhead, and immediately felt I could get comfy here. After being settled in, Mom and Dad settled down for a snooze as well. Just before drifting off to sleep I finally felt like we were a family for the first time in my life.

During the afternoon’s snooze, my Mom got up to meet with a friend, Joleen, who couldn’t contain her excitement to come over and meet me. Dad & I slept through the visit, but not without Mom showing me off to Joleen during my afternoon nap. They both giggled under their breaths as Dad and I snored in unison, sawing down the Cedars of Lebanon as a team effort. Sometime after Joleen left Dad and I awoke, and I was fed. After a good feeding, I took my first bath at home, another first for me. The day was filled with ‘firsts’ for me.

Mom and Dad settled down for some dinner while I had some quiet time; thereafter I spent the evening with them while we watched TV without actually seeing what was on, as all three of us chatted excitedly, and spent some good family quality time together. Later in the evening Mom and Dad put me to bed, but not after Dad had set up the Angel Care Monitor to ensure that I wasn’t having a wobbly in my sleep. I settled down easily, and my parents withdrew to the study for some quiet time of their own. Or so they thought. Without realising it, as the room darkened, my voice uttered screams of protest. Mom and Dad stormed back in and settled me easily. Again though, as they left, I was overwhelmed by fear – fear of the dark! It was the first time since being born that I actually experienced the dark, and it terrified me! In ICU there were lights on, for safety reasons, 24/7. But here at home there was no need for these precautions. The other thing that struck me, and also frightened me a little, was the silence.

Pretty soon I was settled and I drifted off to sleep, with the lights dimmed and some gentle music. After a deep sleep, I started awaking up as I was hungry, in time for my last night feed. Thereafter things went a little downhill, as I had severe stomach cramps and wind, which is not uncommon after a procedure involving the stomach area. Also, the gastronomy tube allows for the introduction of a lot of air into my tummy. As a result the remainder of the night was really uncomfortable for me, and Mommy tried her best to comfort me. Dad took over in the early hours of the morning, and fed me and did my cares. My tummy was still really sore as I also hadn’t downloaded for more than a day! Eventually that settled as well, and Dad and I snoozed together into the mid morning in the study, Dad on the couch, and me on Dad’s well padded tummy. Mom slept late and joined us somewhat later. I was still struggling with wind from my feeding tube, and it caused lots of discomfort.

Dad then climbed onto the Internet and did a whole bunch of research about the gastronomy tube and discovered that it was not uncommon for children and adults alike, who had these tubes into their tummies, to struggle with the difficulty of air in the tummy. The suggested solution was to aspirate the tummy before feeding, which effectively means using the syringe to draw out the stomach contents via the tube, and then removing the plunger from the syringe, allowing the excess gas to dissipate. Once this was done, the feed would be introduced. This has proved really successful, and I’m having less trouble with gas, and fewer throw-ups. Also, I did a much needed download during the course of Saturday and started feeling much better.

Robin and Di also could not contain their excitement at my coming home and popped in on Saturday morning, with yellow roses tied in a yellow ribbon, and a beautifully fluffy bear holding a balloon. As they live a few houses away they had planned to span yellow ribbons across the front gate to welcome me home, as per the song by Dawn and Tony Orlando titled ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’.

Starting very early Saturday morning Dad also implemented my new schedule of events. The one the hospital had provided was too hectic for us to follow, as it included 13 hourly events over a 24 hour period, or something similar to something needing to be done every two hours. This works well if people are on shift and their sole duty is to look after one, but once at home, the general requirements of day-to-day living don’t accommodate 13 events of food and/or medicines during a 24 hour period. My Dad, who’s always game to change and redesign stuff soon compiled a spreadsheet that optimised my schedule, and combined the administration of medicines with feeds. Only one event, the taking of the infamous medicine for men starting with Via, fell outside any other event, but he managed to make this occur during my folk’s waking hours, thereby minimising impact on their sleep. The reason for not being able to type out the full name of that particular medication which comes in the form of a light blue diamond, is that it will trigger my readers’ spam filter and not allow this newsletter to get to you, and that’s something we don’t want happening. Many of you will be wondering why I, as a four month old, need to take this infamous medication? Well, before it was discovered that it could be used for that other purpose, it had been applied for many years in heart patients to lower pulmonary pressure.

By Saturday afternoon I had really settled well, and the three of us decided to go out shopping. We opted for the World Wear Centre, as there is a German butchery (Seemans) that makes incredible ribs. It seems Mom and Dad had invited family over for Sunday afternoon, to welcome me home, and they decided to slap some ribs and boerewors onto the gas braai. I was really wound up at the thought of going out, and figured my Mom and Dad to be really brave. I wasn’t complaining, as I hadn’t gotten out much recently and was looking forward to some new experiences.

In true Mommy style a bag was packed for me, and Dad organised the traveller system. Before long we were heading out the door, and the old folk realised that they didn’t have a blanket for me, in the event of my getting a chill. Mom went back inside and got me a nice warm blankie. We were on the move again. Pretty soon we were in the car travelling, and my eyelids started getting heavy again. The last thing I remember is Mom mentioning to Dad that we didn’t have a pacifier, and should we got back for it. Such novices – I guess they still have a lot to learn about going out with me.

When I awoke again, I was being lifted out the car and put in the traveller. I was impressed that my Dad had managed to assemble it, as it seemed like quite a mission to collapse it to put it in the back of the estate. He mentioned, using fairly animated language, something along the lines of ‘how does it look so easy in the instructions, with a mommy, baby on hip, collapsing it single handedly?’. I soon forgot that as I look around World Wear – this place is really awesome. Mom and Dad headed off to Seemans and soon my nostrils were filled with the smells of freshly baked bread and cakes and confectionary, the rich aroma of spices used to season meat, and the smells of the cooked meals served out of their restaurant. Before long the shop was over, and we headed back to the car. After getting the grocery settled, ensuring there was still space for the traveller, my folk decided to stroll through the centre. I nearly wet myself out of excitement; fortunately, if I had, it would not have been a problem, being in a diaper!

We headed along the storefronts depicting elegantly dressed mannequins in the latest and most outrages fashions. There was so much to take in and see. As we headed further along the centre I spotted a Golf Pro Shop, and I determinedly tried to get my Dad to steer the traveller in that direction. I really would love a baby set of Callaway clubs. But alas, the fact that Mom and Dad’s clubs gather nothing but dust would suggest they don’t have much interest in this department. My attention was soon diverted away from The Pro Shop when I spotted the FTV Fashion Café. Now this place was rocking, and definitely the kind of place I could see myself. Everywhere there were beautiful people, dressed to the nines in the latest fashions from Ed Hardy, Gucci, Guess, DKNY, Levi, etc. Sadly our afternoon sojourn was drawing to a close, and we headed back to the car and home.

Well, as this blog is getting a little long I will continue tomorrow evening, and chat all about the awesome day I had today (Sunday) when the whole family arrived to greet and welcome me home. So keep a look out for my next instalment tomorrow evening.

Before I go however I’m happy to report that all your thoughts, wishes and prayers for little Isabella really worked as her operation on Friday afternoon was successful. I will keep you posted on her progress as well. Saturday I also heard the news that my cousin Lilanie, had a healthy little baby boy called Alexander. As Alexander is also my second name, I have no doubt he too will be destined for great things. So hello to my second cousin Alex who weighed in at 3.7kgs and a decent 51cm!

Lots of love,


Figure 1 Dressed and ready to go

Figure 2 Dressed and waiting to go (where are those take-home meds?)

Figure 3 Ok, now we’re making progress

Figure 4 My brand of the ‘gangsta’ look

Figure 5 Our first family portrait – thanks Mike!

Figure 6 Ready to roll

Figure 7 After months of waiting I’m finally in my own cot

Figure 8 My first snooze at home

Figure 9 The first rains of the season coincided with my home coming as can be seen by the rain drops on these bougainvillea

Figure 10 Mommy washes my hair in the basin

Figure 11 Dad baths me at home

Figure 12 Sonic kept an eye over my bath time

Figure 13 Sonic continues to keep an eye on things

Figure 14 Nighty night

Figure 15 This fellow and balloon is from Robin and Di

Figure 16 The yellow roses and yellow ribbon from Rob and Di

Figure 17 From Joleen and James

3 Comments on Surrealism Epitomised

  1. Gillian Lederer says:

    Love, Love the photos. Let us be the first on your blog to say a big CONGRATULATIONS. This is the best news ever.

    Lock the doors and start to get to know one another without interruptions. You deserve this special time together – the three of you – Finally home as a family.

    Wonderful stuff

    Love always
    Gillian, Oliver, Ryan and Kirsten

  2. Bronwyn says:

    Gooooood Morning, precious little cuddlebunny!!!

    This is really the most amazing news!!!! So so happy to finally see the pictures of you at home in your own cot in your own special room.

    So amazing to see you all at home, as a family, just the way it should be.

    Love to you all

  3. Jenni says:

    Good Morning Little Angel.

    What a wonderful sight to see you at home with your Mommy and Daddy. Sounds like you have had a wonderful weekend at home enjoying what life is all about.

    I can’t help thinking that the heavens heralded your home coming with the first glorious rains of the season! It’s as all of heaven was crying out with joy.

    Lots and Lots of Love

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